Great travel photography has the power to take the viewer to that destination and make them feel like they are there. It can evoke memories of faraway lands and local people and culture that the viewer might have never seen.
You may have heard the usual advice about travel photography like “getting up early” and photographing at the “golden hour”. But here are six travel photography secrets that you have probably never tried that will help you capture stunning photos.
#1 Walk Around
Often the biggest advice for any prospective travel photographer is to simply walk around. It’s incredible how many different photo opportunities you will find simply walking around a city rather than getting in trains, buses, and taxis. Not only will you be able to get a better understanding of the geographical side of the city, but you will also notice moments that would often get missed if using transport.
Just get yourself a handy local map, set a route, and walk. Once you finish the route set another and walk again. Sometimes you might not see anything, and it will feel like a waste of time, but every now and again a photo opportunity will present itself that will make you glad you did walk.
#2 Find High Vantage Spots
Getting up high for an aerial view of a place is a wonderful way to capture great photos. But it can also help get an understanding of the layout of the city and aid you in finding potential shot locations. Often most places have well-defined lookout or viewpoints and there’s nothing wrong with going to those locations and capturing photos even though they have been done before.
But in addition to that, when you are at the location try to figure out if there are any other places that can help you capture great elevated shots.
The great thing these days is that you can find a ton of information online about every location. So always try to build in time at a location to capture some photos from a high viewpoint.
#3 Change Your Hotel
A great trick for photographing cities and being able to capture a good variety of photos is to change your hotel. So rather than staying in the same place for a week, aim to stay at two different hotels around the city.
By choosing your hotels carefully you may be able to capture photos from a rooftop bar or even from your room of different views of the city. Often these photos can work better than those from lookout points as only those people who have stayed at the hotel will be able to capture it.
But the other advantage of staying at a hotel in a different part of the city is that you will get to learn that area and naturally spend more time around there. This will mean rather than focusing most of your time in one location if you were staying in one hotel, you can now spend time in two.
Clearly, if the city is small you won’t need to do this, but in a big city such as Moscow or London this could be useful and help you capture more photos.
#4 Speak to a Local Photographer
Let’s be honest, no matter how good of a photographer you are and how well you plan your trip, a local photographer will always have an edge purely because it is their home city. So why not use that to your advantage.
Contact a local and ask them some questions or get some tips about places you are looking to photograph. Obviously, the key here is not to try to copy their photos but get advice about anything you want to capture. The great thing about doing this rather than contacting a tour guide is that as a photographer they will understand your needs and can help you capture the shots you want.
You never know they may even tell you or show you around a few places that you never knew about. Just think of it as paying it forward, so if one day someone contacts you for information, do the same thing.
Note from the editor: Please do your due diligence and use normal safety precautions when meeting someone you do not know over the internet or in person. Always put your safety first over getting a shot.
#5 Hire a Translator
Whilst not absolutely essential, sometimes having a translator can come in handy. This is especially true if you are photographing anywhere that might be sensitive such as religious buildings or even women in some cultures.
Having a translator can mean that they can ask permission for you, speak to locals to put them at ease, and even help you get model release clauses. You could look to hire a translator just for a day or for the duration of your stay, but they can be a big help in capturing photos in a place where you don’t speak the language.
#6 Ask Tourists
More and more these days picture editors want photos of experiences rather than just another standard snap of the Eiffel tower. Sometimes you can capture those photos naturally with things that happen before your eyes. At other times you may need to set something up to help get that story across.
One of the best ways to do this is by using other tourists. Firstly, if they are from your country you will be able to communicate without any problems. Second, and most importantly, they would probably love to have some great photos of themselves from their trip for their personal use.
Just explain what you are doing and ask if they are willing to participate. Then take their email address and email them a copy of the photo when you get home. The bonus here is that you also have their email address and if one day you require a model release form, you can contact them.
Just be aware of time. No one wants to spend half of their day on holiday posing for photos. Work quickly, take a few photos, and let them get on with their day.
Travel photography often requires a lot of “out of the box” thinking as you’ll rarely encounter exact situations over and over again. Over time you’ll build up your own arsenal of solutions to potential creative challenges. In the meantime use the tips above to help you capture great travel photos.
Have you got any travel photography tips and tricks? Please share them below.